Mavs' point guard back on the court with new teammates
After a long basketball season of wheeling around on her scooter and watching from the bench as her surgically repaired right ankle healed, Erin Reichle was raring to go this fall.
The 2015-16 RMAC preseason player of the year for the Colorado Mesa women’s basketball team looked around and asked, “Where’d everybody go?”
Every player who was on the floor with her two years ago is gone. Only Carson Pipher and Kelli Van Tassel, who redshirted two years ago, remain.
So not only is Reichle trying to knock the rust off her own game, she’s learning the games of her new teammates.
“I think that’s the most difficult thing, is feeding off each other and that comes from that chemistry,” Reichle said.
“It’s hard to know where they’re going to be, when they’re going to be there. I think we’re doing a lot better, though.”
Reichle worked out all summer, but during preseason workouts this fall, she aggravated the ankle, which put her back in the training room. She was cleared to return about a week before practice began.
The ankle, she said, feels great some days, not so great others.
Plenty of ice and rehab help, and she either has her ankles taped or wears ankle braces for practice and games. When the ankle starts throbbing, she’s learned when to back off, when to hop on the stationary bike instead of running conditioning sprints.
The crispness of her shot and the timing with her teammates is getting better every day.
“Each week’s a little bit better for her,” CMU coach Taylor Wagner said. “The chemistry is as important as her conditioning, with each week and each game it’ll be a little bit better. You can practice all you want, the game’s different. She’s got to be in those situations and the girls have to be in game situations with her.”
The Mavericks (1-1) will be back on the court at 5 p.m. on Friday in the Holiday Inn-Airport Thanksgiving Classic at Brownson Arena, facing Bethany College (Kansas), an NAIA school that’s 0-7. On Saturday, Mesa faces former RMAC opponent Western New Mexico (3-1).
Reichle can’t wait to be back in front of the home fans. She learned plenty by watching, she said, not only about the Xs and Os of the game, but about herself.
“So much. It’s kind of crazy, being a redshirt is a blessing in disguise,” she said.
“I realized that any day it could be my last day playing. I learned you have to play hard every day and sometimes that’s a really hard thing to do. Play your game like it’s your last game, play hard.
“I learned a lot about where to be on the floor, mostly defensively, the timing with the offense. I’ve seen it when it’s off and I’ve seen it when it’s on. I didn’t think about that sitting out. I was like, ‘This sucks.’ ‘’
The Mavericks haven’t played for two weeks, and Wagner is hoping the time in the gym has allowed not only Reichle to develop that much-needed chemistry, but the entire team.
“I’m glad we had this week to practice with no games, but now it’s time to see if it really worked,” he said. “Did we grow over those two weeks with the practice and are they buying into some of the defensive philosophies and what we do offensively? We’ll see this weekend.
“The big thing I want, there’s roles that need to be taken. We need a rebounder, someone who’s going to take charges, somebody to get someone open. There’s a lot of roles on this team.
“We don’t need 19 people to shoot the ball, as much as everybody wants to do that. In some of those roles they’re going to be able to create opportunities to score for themselves and for their teammates.”
Reichle’s role should be different from two years ago, when she scored 17.4 points a game for the Mavs, who went 23-6 and won the RMAC regular-season title. She scored a career-high 34 points against Chadron State that season, and Wagner said she’ll have those monster games again. The difference is, she doesn’t have to light it up every night. She’s averaging 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and five assists a game so far this season.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily my team, we have a lot of good leaders on the floor, but my role has switched from when I played my sophomore year,” Reichle said.
“I needed to do a lot more than I do now. Bry (Adams) can shoot the ball, Syd (Small) can drive. We’re still trying to find that inside presence, but Nicole (Archambeau) can shoot and rebound. I’ve had this talk with Coach, I don’t need to do as much as I have and was expected to in the past. I need to get my teammates involved, do what a point guard does.”
Most of all, she said she wants to get the Mavericks “back on the winning train.”
“I think we just need to have confidence in ourselves,” Reichle said. “Coach knows we can do it, I know we can do it. I’ve seen it. The pieces are different, they just fit in different spots. We just have to figure it out.
“We’re not going to do it the same way as my freshman year’s team or my sophomore year. It’s going to be our way.”